Back in April I blogged about controlled crying, and back then it was very apparent to everyone reading, that I was not warming to the idea of leaving Leo to cry for any time at all. On Friday night though...after I had tried everything else I could think of....I hopped on the controlled crying band waggon!
We have always followed the bath, bottle bed routine with Leo, and this is something we have done from day One. I have often tweeted all about the up's and down's we have experienced with our routine and sought out as much advice as possible.
Many people have recommended controlled crying, but I have always shied away from it, not wanting my beautiful boy to shed un-necessary tears and vowed to find another way. Once you have tried everything though...Somehow the idea of controlled crying seems much more attractive.
It is no secret that we have had to improvise our bedtime routine with Leo, more times than you can shake a stick at it, but there are many reasons that can suddenly make a successful routine flounder. As we have experienced...
I have tried feeding him his dinner earlier and then later in the hope he will drink more of his bedtime bottle. I have attempted spraying my perfume on his blankie when he has become so clingy that only Mummy will do, and I have even used magical baby bath. Of course sometimes you get the right combination and the sleep problem will disappear....At least for a little while anyway.
Sometimes no matter what you do, you cannot see the way back to that once blissful routine that you followed so religiously.
Since our return from France last week, Leo has been drawing out bedtime and setting new records in terms of fighting off sleep. Needless to say while we were away Leo's routine was turned on it's head and we created some bad habits that we are now paying for.
On Friday night I followed our usual routine to the smallest detail. He had his dinner, bath and milk. Despite all of this he would not settle and in the end I found myself Googling controlled crying and decided right there and then that I must now give it a try, after everything else had failed.
I started off at 5 minute intervals before running back in and scooping him up. I waited before extending the duration before going in and soothing him. After the first hour and the 5 minutes not getting us anywhere, I did start to wait longer before going back in. The longest time gap I left was 15 minutes, and that felt like a eternity.
I did not talk to him when I entered his room, but I did pat his back reassuringly and soothed him with a 'Shh'. When I went into Leo, I found him sat up in his bed screaming, his freshly washed hair a sweaty mess.
He seemed to take forever to calm down even when I was holding him in my arms. I do realise that this was shear temper on his part but it does not make you feel any better about it. Each time he screamed I found myself wanting to snuggle him close and whisper sweet nothings into his hear.
I wanted to tell him I was sorry and back down.
The more I felt like this, I suddenly realised what a contradiction this would be for my little Leo. As soon as I felt like this I thought how he had cried so many tears, that for me to just back down now and un-do all of our hard work was just completely cruel and un-fair.
It took Leo a record breaking hour and a half before he succumbed to sleep....but he did in the end.
An hour and a half is a long time, and it is fair to say that I hated waiting 5 minutes...10 minutes and 15 minutes to go back in with a attempt to settle my beautiful boy.
Leo is at an age where he knows how to push the boundaries. For instance just last night when bedtime came around he point blank refused his bottle in his room. I persisted and so did Leo, upon walking out of his bedroom the tears stopped. Entering my bedroom and sitting on the bed, he suddenly drank his bottle. Leo had got his own way. As soon as he drank his milk I took him straight back into his room to go to bed.
Controlled Crying has not been a easy route for me to take, but after our first 3 nights of practising it I do feel more confident about what I am doing. It has certainly worked and once Leo has gone to bed, he is in bed. He will protest and you can certainly hear him crying but it does not take as long as our first attempt did on Friday. He may cry for about 20 minutes now, sometimes less...but he goes to sleep.
When I am sure Leo is sleeping like a baby, I sneak back into him and peek at my sleeping beauty, he always sleeps where he drops after giving up his fight to stay awake, and he's tucked up with his favourite blanket. You would not know that he had been screaming so relentlessly and just looks completely peaceful.
Leo is currently going through a very clingy stage and he just wants to stay with me all the time, however I return to work next month and I need to know that bedtime will be in check. Maybe he can sense something big is about to happen? Maybe he knows Mummy will not be here as much....?
Whatever the reason is, I am optimistic that implementing controlled crying into our routine may make bedtime easier in the long run... even if I do shed a few tears along the way.